Being a parent means constantly learning and adapting, and being a gymnastics parent raises the bar even higher! Not only do you have to make sure your child is happy and healthy, but you have to simultaneously be their cheerleader, advocate, and secretary.
The payoff comes when you get to watch your gymnast advance a level, or make a skill stick, and achieve their goals.
As a gymnastics parent myself, I’ve watched my baby Level 1 grow into a successful teenage gymnast, and it’s been quite an adventure! And even though I wouldn’t change our story for the world, I’d like to share a few pieces of advice I wish someone had given me around the time we bought our very first leotard.
Yes, you’ve read it right! It’s high time the 5 secrets of successful gymnastics parenting be laid bare:
Both figuratively and literally. No matter how grown-up, your child will always need all the love and support you can give. And even though teenagers might act indifferent, your “hooray’s” and “way to go’s” mean the world to them.
Not that long ago, my 15-year-old had some trouble with her full-in. Not being a gymnast myself, I couldn’t give her tips on mastering it. What I could do, however, was cheer her up and assure her that she could do it. And of course, she made it! And within a few weeks.
So remember, your job is to celebrate your child’s successes and make failures more bearable. Even if you are a former gymnast, it’s best that you leave the criticizing and coaching to the experts.
This sport is a huge time commitment and your gymnast may need you to work with their school and extracurricular activities to find a balance that works for everyone.
The occasional parent-teacher talk might prove priceless if you want your child to excel at school. Simply explaining why she would have to miss an upcoming math test convinced my daughter’s teacher to let her take it another day.
Gymnastics is a vital part of your child’s life so emphasizing this and defending their rights is a responsibility that falls on you as a parent.
Of course, this one goes without saying - as a parent it’s your job to keep your child healthy and well nourished. But as a gymnastics parent, preparing nutritious meals that will fuel your gymnast for practice is a must! Hydration and sleep round out the trifecta of healthy body habits, so be sure your gymnast gets enough sleep and never leaves the house without a bottle of water.
This is maybe the best advice I can give, not just as a gymnastics parent, but as a parent in general. Be someone they can rely on, someone that will listen and respect them, and only give advice when they ask for it. This translates to gymnastics as well.
Your children need a sympathetic ear to vent their fears and frustrations. Especially in a high-pressure environment like competitive gymnastics. When faced with a situation like this a couple of months ago, I simply calmed my daughter down. I told her that a bad day at a competition is simply that - a bad day.
I can’t stress enough how important it is not let your kids compare themselves to others on the team, or let them give up. Instead, remind your gymnasts of how far they’ve come and how much fun they’ve had along the way.
Help schedule their time to include the things that will keep them grounded outside gymnastics. Whether it’s attending a sibling’s recital, catching up on household chores, or going shopping, the “little things” are important too.
Beware though, your child mustn't get overwhelmed or exhausted, so everything has to be superbly organized. Of course, you have to do all the scheduling with their blessing. Otherwise, you might end up scheduling a piano lesson on movie night with friends, and that’s not a good idea :).
What I like to do, and it’s proven helpful, is make a weekly schedule and then run it past my daughter for confirmation. If you feel like it, you can make this a task for two. This can be especially valuable if you have a teenager. You’ll get to spend more time together and your son/daughter will feel like they have a say in what’s going on.
There you go, from one gymnastics parent to another, the 5 golden tips for successful gymnastics parenting. Hope you’ll find these helpful, and don't forget: gymnastics is all about having fun!